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Japan is a paradise of flowers and of treasure-flowers, as the Japanese mothers call their babies. In no other country in the world do they both form so large a part of the daily life of the people. From the first white plum blossom to the last gorgeous chrysanthemum the path of the days is strewn with beautiful blossoms; and from the time of the Dolls' Festival to the New Year's Celebration there is a constant round of simple pleasures for the children. Happy children! who are always laughing and never crying; who are taught filial respect, reverence, and unquestioning obedience, but are surrounded in their homes with an atmosphere of kindness, cheerfulness and loving care. It is true that the New Japan is very different from the Old. Railway trains and electric cars are taking the place of the jinrikisha and kago; modern school-houses, with desks, chairs, blackboards, and the latest methods of teaching are fast replacing the tiny school-room with its matted floors and its lessons learned by rote. But the spirit of the common people is unchanged. The children play the same games and listen to the same delightful tales; and their fathers and mothers hold to their old superstitions, their ancestor-worship and their love of nature. This story is a picture of the simple life of a Japanese family. To follow little Umé San through the year, to play with her dolls on the days of the Dolls' Festival, to go with her to the parks to admire the cherry blossoms or chrysanthemums and join the crowds who are celebrating these joyous seasons, to feed the goldfishes and doves in the temple gardens, to buy toys and gifts in the streets of shops, and to welcome the New Year with festivity and merrymaking, is to catch a glimpse of the rare charm and spirit that pervade life in this "Land of the Rising Sun."
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